Injection Molding Company Experiences Growth and Industry Praise with Use of Software Systems   Rebecca Carnes


Lakeside Plastics, an award-winning General Motors supplier of injection molded thermoplastics, had been facing shipping errors and weak supply chain management until company administrators implemented Solarsoft’s ERP system and manufacturing execution system, Mattec MES. The result has been impressive recognition from the industry with a GM Supplier of the Year Award in 2009 and 2010 and the Johnson Controls Top Supplier Award from 2008 to 2011.

Along with the accolades has come the hiring of an additional 100 employees to meet a 15 percent increase in business as a result of integrating Solarsoft’s ERP software and manufacturing execution system. The company saved $120,000 in defect penalties annually, going from 25 parts per million to less than 1 part per million; eliminated approximately $50,000 annually in expedite charges; and integrated all systems to provide built-in production alerts.

“Solarsoft has enabled Lakeside Plastics to not only survive during the most difficult years of the automotive industry; it has provided the company with a competitive advantage that has allowed us to grow and expand,” said Lakeside Plastics President Glenn Coates in a statement.

Located in Oldcastle, Ontario, Lakeside Plastics’ key challenges were to implement an ERP system to manage the business and strengthen supply chain management, as well as improve control of production with real-time information from the shop floor. In the past, much of the information captured from the injection molding and production equipment on the shop floor was gathered manually, using paper-based reporting. Electronic captures were reported on a daily batch basis and if there was an issue, shop-floor managers would find out about it a day later.

Solarsoft Mattec MES eliminates the need for manual data collection processes by providing real-time production monitoring and control. The system integrates with Solarsoft’s iVP ERP system to provide a clearer picture of operations on the shop floor and to enable more accurate planning and execution to meet customer demands. Mattec MES automatically adjusts shop floor processes to meet target production outputs that are dictated by the automakers’ supply chain systems, taking the guesswork out of which machines and operations should be working at any given moment.

“With the addition of Mattec, I can tell at a glance, which machine is making a particular part,  where they are in their production schedules, and whether they will meet performance and output targets,” said Lakeside Plastics Plant Manager Todd Musson in a statement. The machines are able to send data directly to the system about their operating status, including the volume of production they are capable of versus output, how long the equipment has been running, what part profiles have been created, and various quality measurements that are created when parts are made.

“Processes and schedules are no longer created from estimates. They are created based on real data about past history, capacities, and the ability of both our people and machines to meet objectives,” Musson said. “In short, Lakeside Plastics is able to operate at peak efficiency without wasting any time, materials, or labor.”

The Solarsoft iVP system manages financial operations, EDI, inventory, materials planning, and ordering processing. The system also automates key areas of the business to eliminate data-entry errors and provide real-time information. Lakeside Plastics manages electronic data interchange (EDI), sales, and production planning with Solarsoft iVP. Solarsoft’s reporting features also provided automated shipment verification.

Lakeside Plastics (www.lakesideplastics.com) was looking to accelerate its shop-floor production reporting to real time for greater control and management of the shop floor equipment and processes. They were also looking to improve tool and equipment production by capturing and measuring performance, as well as provide shop floor managers and equipment operators timely and accurate information.

Solarsoft’s ERP software can be implemented separately from Mattec MES, and Mattec can be integrated with ERP software from other vendors. “But our systems are designed for easy integration with each other. Solarsoft iVP manages the business from sales orders, production, shipping, and delivery. And Solarsoft Mattec MES provides real-time production monitoring and control,” said William Lee, marketing communications coordinator for Solarsoft, in a statement. Lee went on to explain that Mattec MES accepts direct data input from injection molding equipment on the shop floor. The system’s integrated functionality enables the machines to send data about real-time operating status, including volume of production the machines are capable of compared to current output, how long the equipment has been running, what part profiles have been created, and various quality measurements that are performed during parts manufacturing.

“With Solarsoft’s Mattec MES, plant managers have immediate, real-time insight into what machine is making a particular part, where they are in their production schedules, and whether or not they will meet performance and output targets,” Lee said in a statement. “Lakeside Plastics is now able to coordinate delivery before production even begins, and by establishing an ongoing real-time production line, the company hits production targets in a predictable fashion.”

Lakeside Plastics’ parts for the automotive industry include interior trim, door handle inserts, door handles, and exterior trim parts. As a long-term, tier-one supplier for General Motors, Lakeside Plastics has provided key interior components for several GM models, including the Chevrolet Camaro, Impala, Malibu, and Traverse crossover. The company operates out of three plants in southwestern Ontario and employs about 300 people.

Solarsoft (www.solarsoft.com) provides its software to both OEMs and contract manufacturers in North America, Europe, and Asia, with more than 2,000 companies as customers. The company has worldwide revenues of about $100 million and employs more than 400 professionals. Solarsoft offers specialized ERP software and IT services to manufacturers within discrete manufacturing (automotive supply chain, plastics and rubber, and stamping, forge and casting); packaging manufacturing (corrugated packaging and displays, and consumer packaging, folding cartons and labels); and process manufacturing (food and drink, mill metals and chemicals, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and cosmetics.)

Many of Solarsoft’s customers prefer not to disclose that they use Solarsoft as their competitive advantage, Lee said, but did mention some examples of businesses that have seen positive results. Atlas Hydraulics doubled its business with Solarsoft iVP without adding overhead. The Woodbridge Group used the flexibility of Solarsoft iVP to allow them to diversify its business model. And Sacramento Container experienced an increase in business of about 20 percent each year for the past three years with Solarsoft’s packaging manufacturing ERP software and add-on modules.


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